Sunday, 28 September 2014


Instead of ending up near Gleneagles as planned I joined a friend (whose house backs on to the golf course) for a visit today to the village of Doune. As an escape from the constraints of having such a big and highly successful venue on one's doorstep we ended up at an antique fair well away from the Big Event going on down the road.


I treated myself to a cake plate* as (a) I do not have one and (b) the children and I are doing some serious baking these days.  They are bigger now and are very good at doing such things as: cracking eggs on the side of a bowl, measuring ingredients on the baking scales etc.  So this Aynsley china plate is propped up on the sideboard waiting for the next Mary Berry Great British Wannabe Bakers to don their aprons and get out the Betty Crocker icing tubs!

On the sideboard are some bits and pieces that simply get plonked there by the last person who dried the dishes.  This is some silverware lying in a plate with iris seeds from the garden.
* I cannot identify the pattern ... odd....!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


A glorious autumn morning!  
Blue sky and dew drops! 

Eidelweiss and Butterfly
Nasturtiums and Cornflowers
Kafir Lilies (coral colour)

Saturday, 20 September 2014


It's all over bar the shouting, as they say.  Scotland voted NO to the question ""Should Scotland be an independent country?" In the final analysis it was the Better Together campaign who wanted to maintain the union that won the day.

Let Burns have the last word ... from the last lines of his poem "A Man's Man for A' That"

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that) 
That sense and worth o'er a' the earth 
Shall bear the gree an' a' that! 
For a' that, an' a' that, 
It's comin’ yet for a' that,
That man to man the world o'er 

Shall brithers be for a' that.


The photo is my own: Burns from Wikimedia (his statue in Dumbfries) and flags from my photo of Commonwealth Games yachts coming upriver July 2014.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Today is voting day for the Scottish independence referendum.  As predicted lots of people turned out to mark their ballot paper:  YES or NO to the one question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

To mark the day both for ourselves and our grandchildren (who were off school) we decided to pay a visit to a place of historic significance in story of Scotland's drive for independence ... and that is Dumbarton Castle.  

We took the children with us to vote and then headed off to the castle, a short half hour drive from our home.

It is situated on Dumbarton Rock, a volcanic plug, downriver from Glasgow, on the Clyde as it widens out to flow westwards into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a military garrison and not particularly inviting.  Most people who live in and around it have never visited it and it is certainly not by any stretch of the imagination a popular tourist spot.  It does however have a grim history.

 We climbed to the trig point on the top.  Here are Ishbel and I.

Iain pretended to blow the 2 mischief-makers out of the canon into Kingdom Come!

However we had a more serious reason for visiting the castle and that was to mark the fact that another person in history, William Wallace, otherwise known popularly from the film" Braveheart", has an association with this castle. 

Wallace Tower ruins undergoing restoration.  The arrow points to the plaque.

William Wallace is a great hero of Scotland as he fought for Scotland against England in the wars for Scottish independence many hundreds of years ago (late 13th and 14th centuries).  So why is he part of the history of Dumbarton Castle? The information on the display board (in an out of the way Guard's Room) say it all as shown below:

"William Wallace: captor and captive

When William Wallace defeated the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297, Dumbarton Castle was held by an English garrison, who fled within a few days.  Wallace imprisoned his captives Marmaduke Tweng, William Fitzwarin and William de Ros here, holding the English knights for future exchange with Scottish nobles held by the English.  Eight years later, Wallace himself was brought here after being betrayed to Menteith, Dumbarton’s governor, and it was from here that he was taken on horseback to London for bloody execution."

His execution was particularly gruesome so that those supporters of his cause would be deterred from trying to push for independence ... until ... today .... all these hundreds of years later.

* * * * * * *

For more information on William Wallace see a previous post March 31, 2014 where I have photos of his statue in Aberdeen and also the full text of the plaque at it base.  The link is here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


It is now 2 days before we go to cast our vote Yes or No to the question:  "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

There is a lot in the press and television about the topic ... and I gather, from communication I get from friends abroad, it is the same.

The polls show that the mood of people who are preparing to vote is pretty well split down the middle, i.e. 50-50.   The Queen made a statement yesterday "Think carefully."

Our polling cards on the desk in the hall.
What are Himself and I voting?      "No"

Whatever the outcome it will (a) be a close one and (b) we will just have to go with it.

The media has been full of really funny stuff relating to the referendum.  Last week  3 politicians flew north to Scotland to whip up the No vote,. There was a really funny cartoon in the (Edinburgh) Scotsman newspaper.  It showed a Scottish cartoon character holding out his hand and in it were the 3 politicians from London (representing the 3 main UK political parties).  The cartoon heading read "Wee sleekit cowerin', tim'rous beasties .... Oh what a panic's in thy breastie!"    Clever!

 This' ballot paper'  as been doing the rounds. I had a go at cobbling this together using Photoshop.

Meanwhile, it's time to prepare for visitors who are making a special trip from France to be here for the day of voting.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


After school yesterday we found lots of 'projects' outside in the garden.

Ishie cut some sweet peas for the house.  As luck would have it the sweet peas inadvertently got planted in a rather random manner and instead of turning out to be peas in pods they were the most marvellous jungle of sweet peas.  I left them ... and will do exactly the same next year.  They don't need staked against a wall; put them out in the sun and they grow up the other plants nearby. 


Here is her bouquet... perfection!

Little Miss Mini Munchkin ... as Harriet gets called ... was with me for a short hour in the morning while Mairi went for her monthly ante-natal visit.  This sweater was knitted for Ishbel which was given to Mairi coming up for 8 years ago!

Iain built a den for the kids just over our fence in the park at the back of the house. The big lime tree made a perfect canopy ... and kept them occupied for ages.

Another happy outcome in the garden.  I planted a rather large bulb last autumn thinking it was an amaryllis which I had been given earlier in the year.  Good heavens!  This agapanthus emerged under  the neighbouring lime green angelica plant.

Monday, 8 September 2014


Well, yer aye learnin' as they say ...

I have been scratching my head trying to figure out why, suddenly, the number of hits to this blog increased not double, not treble but quadruple about 2 weeks ago!

I can tell through which channel it comes (called 'traffic sources' and are sources like Google in various countries or Yahoo) but, of course, not exactly who is who, i.e. given individuals.

I finally decided to look on the web to see if there is some sort of new technology starting up, or some country lifting restrictions etc.

I could only find information about how to increase traffic to one's site ... which does not interest me. However what it did say was that if you have photos to put on your blog you should consider putting them on Flickr and that will increase the number of hits.

Maybe that's it?  (But I really don't see the connection.)

Two weeks ago I set up a Flickr account so I could obtain permission for use of photographs for a sailing publication from Flickr sources.  I needed a Flickr account and so posted a handful of my photos on the site (and the move has had the desired outcome). 

I assume that must account for the increased traffic!  Or maybe there is absolutely no connection....?

___________________________~ ______________________________

Photo is of the CalMac ferry heading into Portree Harbour (with Photoshop nonsense added.)

Sunday, 7 September 2014


Seol na Mara is now back in the Clyde.  Iain, John and Mairi, Ishbel and Alastair had a day out yesterday sailing out of Blairvaddich, near Rhu which is near the town of Helensburgh on the Clyde.

These are John's wonderful photos of a sparkling day on the water.

Alastair on the bow looking over to boats on their moorings at Rhu.

Seol na Mara

All hands on the tiller


* * * * * **

 Meanwhile back at the ranch ....

 Harriet, 15 months is 'helping' Grandma!

In the park at the back of our house ... with me trying to catch her cheeky smile on the iPhone and push the swing at the same time!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


After school activities are much more fun as the kids get older.  Ishie and I baked and Alastair and Iain spent time in the garage measuring and sawing wood.


Today we baked, from scratch, a Swiss Roll.  After we finished she was keen to look up in my recipe books something else that we might tackle. How about Christmas cookies with sprinkles?  Here she is making out my shopping list.

Meanwhile here is Alastair up to his usual nonsense!

In the park after school I took this video with my iPhone.  It took me several attempts.  It was only when Ishie took it out of my hands to show me that the round red signal means video is waiting and square red signal means it is recording.  Ah-h-h-h ... I had it the wrong way around.

In case it does not work, the video is of Alastair shimmying up the swing bars using his 2 hands - no feet.... as in the photo below:

Monday, 1 September 2014


Alastair likes to talk 'cars' these days.  He has very expensive tastes too.  He knows all the brands and wants to know all the details about them. But he came out with one that John had not heard of .....

......  he wants "an Aston Pine Marten" when he grows up...!!!!

I wonder if he learned about these animals when we were in Tomintoul, Speyside in May when Dawn, Alastair and Indy were visiting?  Up the back of where we were staying was a sandy bank which had a lot of burrows for birds - sand martins,  I think they were - which were numerous and flew all around the place.

One lunchtime Indy and I made a little picnic and hiked (all 100 yards) to this sandy place, a bit like a sandy gravel pit, to have our picnic. While munching on our apple slices my eye caught a sudden movement and, using my iPhone camera, I took these photos below.  

It was a pine martin! ... about the size of a large, elongated cat. A first sighting for me. 

I got such a laugh from John's little story I decided I might just 'design' one for Alastair. Come to think of it, I am seeing him tomorrow so I will get him to do the same... watch this space!

APM Prototype Number 1